Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar given 175 years for sexual abuse

By @chelean on
  • Larry Nassar
    Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, stands during his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
  • Victim Rachael Denhollander (L) embraces prosecutor Angela Povilaitis at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar
    Victim Rachael Denhollander (L) embraces prosecutor Angela Povilaitis at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
  • Victim Rachael Denhollander speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar
    Victim Rachael Denhollander speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
  • Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor
    Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, is lead from the courtroom past victims following his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
  • Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina delivers a sentence to Larry Nassar,
    Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina delivers a sentence to Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
  • Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis (R) embraces victim Kyle Stephens (C) after the sentencing of Larry Nassar,
    Prosecutor Angela Povilaitis (R) embraces victim Kyle Stephens (C) after the sentencing of Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 24, 2018. Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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Larry Nassar has been sentenced to 175 years in prison for abusing over 160 female athletes, primarily underage girls. The disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor had sexually abused the girls under his care, including Olympic gold medallists Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and McKayla Maroney.

On Wednesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 175 years for the horrific abuses. She called the sentencing her “honour and privilege,” adding that he does not deserve to walk outside prison ever again.

“I just signed your death warrant,” Aquilina told him. She set the minimum prison term at 40 years.

The accusers had testified that the doctor abused them in the guise of giving them medical treatment. One gymnast recalled how Nassar began molesting her at the age of 6. Her father took his own life upon realising that she had not been lying about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.

Following days of victims addressing the osteopathic physician in court, Nassar, 54, apologised to his victims before he was sentenced, saying he would carry their words with him for the rest of his days. However, Aquilina thought he was insincere. She read portions of his letter to her aloud as proof that Nassar did not feel remorse at all. In the letter, Nassar claimed being coerced to a guilty plea deal by prosecutors before begrudgingly agreeing to save his family and victims the stress of a trial.

“I was a good doctor because my treatments worked and those patients that are now speaking out were the same ones that praised and came back over and over, and referred family and friends to see me. The media convinced them that everything I did was wrong and bad. They feel that I broke their trust,” he wrote. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!”

After reading the letter, Aquilina asked Nassar if he would like to withdraw his plea, to which Nassar said no. He pleaded guilty only to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct charges but the judge allowed 156 of his victims to address him in court. As part of his deal with the prosecutors, he also pleaded guilty to three additional counts in another county. He will be sentenced next week.

Nassar was already sentenced to 60 years in prison in December for child pornography charges. He was arrested a year prior, with the FBI collecting over 37,000 images and videos of the offensive materials from his home, including a video of him molesting girls.

Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to file a police report against Nassar in 2016, was the last victim to testify. She embraced lead prosecutor Angela Povilaitis upon hearing her abuser would likely spend the rest of his life in jail. She was also praised by Aquilina as the bravest voice in the room for speaking up.

Failure to protect the victims

USA Gymnastics, as well as the Michigan State University, where Nassar worked as a faculty member, have been criticised for their failure to protect the victims. The two institutions are named as defendants in civil lawsuits for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse complaints against Nassar.

On Tuesday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association said it had opened an investigation into Michigan State University’s handling of the case, Reuters reports. Denhollander criticised the school for not properly investigating complaints against Nassar for years.

USA Gymnastics claimed it had fired Nassar and reported him to the FBI in 2015 after learning of an athlete’s concerns. Nevertheless, it has lost several major sponsors for its inadequate response.